Dr. “Ali” Alisha Griffith is an Autism Mom, Communication Expert (Audiologist and Speech Pathologist), Best Selling Author, IGNITE Coach and Transformational Speaker and Trainer. She provides coaching to teach individuals and caregivers how to become effective listeners, foster stronger relationships and get ignited and focused. Her best-selling book can be purchased by clicking here.
I wanted to discuss the importance of Autism support groups and how you can go about finding support for you. I understand the feelings you may be experiencing since I felt them myself. When I first was told about my son, Zachary’s diagnosis, I didn't know where to look or where to turn. I didn’t speak to many people and I kept mostly to myself and walked around as if everything was fine even though on the inside...I was going through hell. Being an audiologist, speech pathologist working with families on an ongoing basis, many people expected that I would already be an expert in this field of “support”...but it’s so different when you’re on the receiving end.
I’m here to tell you today that there is a way to find support. In fact, I’m going to provide you with 5 tips from my very own handbook.
When I first heard about Zachary’s diagnosis, I looked towards another parent who was going through the same thing, except their child was much older. That parent already walked their journey through “autism acceptance” and already had the tips and tools I needed for Zachary since their child was older. My first tip to you is to find someone like this in your life. You will be able to relate to a parent with a child who has Autism, and they may even guide you on some parenting skills they have learned.
The second step I took was to reach out to schools. Now, most schools or institutions will have programs and therapy for different children on the spectrum and different ranges. They often times have support groups you can join, and if they don't have it within the facility they will have access to where you can get it.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but GOOGLE! Sometimes parents don’t realize how simple it is to find support groups if they just go looking for it. Many websites have directories like Eventbrite, showcase upcoming Autism related events around you. So get online, type in Google and see where the activities are around your neighbourhood. Look up terms like “upcoming autism events in Brooklyn” or “parenting with autism events in Brooklyn” to find the best activities near you.
Which brings me to my next tip...
Getting involved in activities with your child! As you take your child to an activity with special needs or autism guess what? That’s where the parents are..and the place where you will get more support.
For me personally, I have my So Smart Kids Program (http://www.sosmartkids.com/) which is a socialisation martial arts and therapy program in New York. I established this for my parents to go where kids can learn more about wellness martial arts and structure in a fun place.
Better yet, this was a great place for parents to meet other parents! Back to tip 1, one of the best support systems you have is other parents experiencing the same thing. My program was the perfect time for my parents to get together with each other. While we were teaching on the mat, I would glance up and I would see the parents talking with each other and that became another source of support.
Now this last one is a really juicy one. Want to know the next place you can get a support group?SOCIAL MEDIA! When I first got started, there’s one I joined just to get more information that has over 10,000 followers in the group. Some people may feel timid at first asking for advice or support, but don’t you worry there’s always a parent just like you going through the same thing.
Do you need to get started with an Autism Facebook Group?
We always welcome new members! You can visit facebook.com/autismacceptancefest
Just click the button below and click "Join Group"
You will be sure to receive ongoing support, tips and tools and weekly information from me, Dr. Ali and the many, many parents that are members of the group!
If you need more support, you can feel free to reach out about one on one coaching. I offer 15 minutes free consultations so if you want to have a chat, and see if individual coaching is right for you, feel free to reach out using the link below.
Don’t worry, we’re in this together.